Celebrating Flan: A Traditional Latin American Dessert
Posted on: October 24, 2013
Celebrating Flan: A Traditional Latin American Dessert

The word flan derives from the Latin, “flado” (meaning flat cake), and it is found in recipes as far back as ancient Rome, nearly two thousand years ago.

Romans spread the recipe during their conquests, and the Spanish added the delicious caramel sauce to this dessert. Later, the conquistadores brought the recipe to the Americas, and these days flan has become one of the most popular desserts in Latin America.

There are many flan recipe versions, but today I want to share with you two of my favorites – the traditional flan, and the Mexican Chocó Flan, half chocolate cake, half flan.


Traditional Flan Recipe

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1–12oz can of evaporated skim milk
  • 1–12oz can of condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Caramel:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice



In saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lemon juice over medium heat. Mix until the sugar dissolves. Stop cooking when liquid turns golden. Immediately pour the syrup into a 1½ quart soufflé dish, covering the bottom and sides. Allow it to cool slightly while you make the flan.


  • Crack six eggs into a large bowl.  Mix the eggs together using a fork or a whisk. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.  Pour this over the caramel in the cake pan.
  • This flan must be cooked in a water bath. Find a pan that will fit your flan pan. Make sure there is space around all sides of the flan pan. I usually use a roaster pan or lasagna pan for this.
  • Put the flan pan with the flan ingredients into the outer pan. Put water into the outer pan high enough to come about 3/4 of the way up on the flan pan.
  • Place the pans in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven and cook for one hour. Check the flan with a toothpick in the middle to ensure it is done. The flan may not look exactly firm, but if the toothpick is clean it is done.

Choco flan Recipe

For the flan:

See flan ingredients above (Traditional flan recipe).

For the cake:

  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c.  sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk
  • softened butter to coat pan
  • 1/4 c. cajeta, dulce de leche or caramel sauce


  • Butter a 12-cup capacity bundt pan and line the bottom with the cajeta. Place the prepared pan into a large roasting pan and set aside.
  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°.
  • To prepare the cake, add the butter and sugar to a bowl and, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the milk the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.
  • To prepare the flan, follow the traditional flan instructions above.
  • Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan.
  • Slide the pan into the oven and bake one hour until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When the cake is done, remove it from the water bath and allow it to cool completely to room temperature, about one hour.
  • Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the bundt pan, grasp tightly together and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake. This cake is traditionally served after being chilled for 24 hours, but you can also serve it warm or at room temperature.
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Monica Correa
Monica Correa

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